Every web hosting company, at its core, offers the same basic service. That being said, things begin to change rapidly based on the type of hosting, features, and options you need. Choosing a web host can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
You simply need to identify your needs and the needs of your website. Today we’re going to go down a checklist of the things you should consider before choosing your hosting company.
Your Step-by-Step Hosting Checklist
Here’s what you need to consider:
- Identify Your Needs
- Check out the host’s average uptime and Upgrade Options
- Look at the features available
- Examine prices for signing up and for renewal
- Look at the company’s Terms of Service
Now, we’re going to walk through these steps. Once you’ve gone through these preparations, you’ll be able to decide if any given hosting company is right for you. Let’s get started!
Step One: Identify Your Needs
Each every hosting company is going to hit you with options, lots of them. Before diving into the cheapest hosting, or the most expensive plan, stop and consider your needs:
- What kind of website are you trying to create (a business, a blog, or something in between)?
- Do you want to use a common platform like WordPress?
- Are you going to need Windows or Linux servers in particular?
- How many visitors (traffic) are you expecting?
To help you understand these needs, try writing down the plan for your website now, and into the next year. A good rule of thumb for those who are just starting out is to stick with shared hosting in the beginning.
Most businesses or blogs will only need this type of hosting for the first year.
Step Two: Check Out The Host’s Uptime and Upgrade Options
Next up we have two very important aspects of your hosting: the server uptime, and the ability to upgrade when the time comes. For the first part, we want to look at the amount of time average websites are up and running each month, compared to the time they are down.
Downtime is not only bad, it’s unacceptable. You’re paying the company to keep your website up and running, so any lack of that is a failure on their part.
Many of today’s hosting reviews will cover the average uptime, but suffice to say, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than 99.9% uptime each month. Many companies will offer this type of guarantee, and the best ones will refund you for any time your site is down.
Next up we have upgrade options. You may start with shared hosting, but as time goes on, you’re going to need faster hosting with more resources at your disposal.
Before you sign up, make sure the company offers upgrade options that don’t hit you with fees. It should be quick and easy to change your hosting to something better.
On a side note, you could always consider cloud hosting, which by its very nature has the ability to scale and allocate resources for you to quickly handle a spike in traffic or an overall increase in your activity.
Step Three: Look at The Features Available
Features will vary from host-to-host, but you should never compromise on certain options just because you think your dollar isn’t worth the bells and whistles. You can’t expect to pay $5/month for dedicated hosting, but there are things that shouldn’t be negotiable:
- Unlimited Storage
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Web mail support
- Auto Script Installers (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.)
- A Fair Refund Policy
Beyond these, you can look for additional backup and security features, but depending on the price, you may need to sacrifice some of those things. Just remember that the features listed above are standard for any level of hosting.
Step Four: Examine Prices for Signing up and For Renewal
When you’re looking at the discounts for hosting, you’re looking at the price for your first term. That could be a year, or it could be longer, but once that time is up, you’re going to experience a higher price on future hosting.
This jump varies across today’s hosting companies, but in some cases they won’t increase the price. That being said, you can check the Terms of Service to see how they handle their renewal rates. It’s important to look at this before signing up.
Step Five: Look at the Terms of Service
Speaking of the good old TOS, you should check this document on the company’s site before you purchase hosting from them. Beyond the price of renewals, you can find out how they handle refunds and cancellations.
A good practice is to use CTRL+F on the page and search for “refund” and “Cancellation” to jump directly to the proper spot. Once you’re there, look for answers to these questions:
- If you cancel during the refund period, do you get all your money back?
- What (if any) refunds are available after the initial trial period?
- What do they charge in cancellation fees?
This is a critical part of the checklist. If something goes wrong, or you don’t like the service, you should know how difficult it’s going to be to get your money back.
Your Hosting Awaits!
Choosing a web shot isn’t difficult, but it does require some legwork so you know what you’re getting into. Be sure to follow this checklist when you start your research.
Let us know which hosting company you chose in the comments!